My next newspaper column:
Oh, the letters expressing dismay at my writing. They’re right, of course. In the twilight of my life, I’ve devolved from a surgeon who received high praise and produced (mostly) excellent results, to a curmudgeon micturating into the wind. (I’d suggest a certain disapproving but admirably centenarian teacher recall the words Mark Anthony delivered prior to those about which she did figuratively ope her ruby lips, however.)
(A local reference to a recent letter.)
But this is beyond “Get off my lawn.” I see bulldozers, plants being uprooted, defoliants poured on the greenery. Ugly specters leer in the windows, dripping gas and lighting matches, threatening my grandchildren. Not just an old flatulent, though I am that, I’m calling for help from my neighbors. You’re next, even if you don’t see it, I cry. Help us, I shout, in frustration, fear, and exasperation. Help us all, even if you figure, hey, it’s not my house. It will be.
If the destruction kept escalating, while your neighbors stood mute, would you go gentle into that good night? Not me. I’m shouting “fire” in a crowded theater, only it’s not a prank. Flames are everywhere. As are mixed metaphors.
Those who consider my writing baseless, hate-filled invective are untroubled by Trump’s rhetoric. Not when he says Democrats “want to destroy you.” Not when he says four Congresswomen “hate America,” while lying about what they’ve said. Or when he calls opponents names that would embarrass a five-year-old for lack of originality. Even when he claims “the right to do whatever I want as president.” Every American should find that one horrifying.
Nor do they object when he eliminates regulations designed to protect them and their progeny from drinking poisoned water, breathing befouled air, getting a subpar education, being trapped in poverty, hungry and desperate. Or when he brings incompetent swamp-dwellers into his Cabinet. Runs up trillion-dollar deficits. (His latest budget proposal is even worse.) You’d think they’d appreciate someone sounding alarums. If they didn’t believe you, would you walk away? I tried that, once.
Belaying the bombast makes no difference. Those in the thrall of Trump’s vindictiveness and attacks on constitutional governance, and politicians like Lindsey Graham, who act as if they fear Godfather-like reprisals, ignore the dangers beneath the surface of their approval. Wednesday, unable to dispute facts to appease their Mafia don, disgracing themselves and America, Republicans attacked Robert Mueller, all but approving Russia’s acts of war.
It’s convenient to dismiss my criticism, or anyone’s, as “hate-filled invective.” It rationalizes ignoring the reasons behind heartfelt and, yes, patriotic concerns. When toned down, the facts to which I refer are still called lies. Arguments are still rejected reflexively as a hammered knee, calling me a communist. Which is as far from reality as Trump’s views on climate change.
After his eagerly-enraged crowd chanted “Send her back,” Trump lied that he tried to stop it, lied that he didn’t approve, then spent days excreting praise. “Go back home” would have been run-of-the-mill, deplorable Trumpism. “Send her back,” though, means round her up and haul her away, an American citizen and elected Representative. Sound familiar? It does to me: having lost relatives in the Holocaust, it sounds like cattle-cars. In their derelict approval, Trump’s rally-goers are but a step or two behind the Kristallnacht rioters. What I feel is nausea, not hate.
Malign clouds are approaching. Those who don’t see are deliberately looking away. Those who don’t hear the klaxons are fingering their ears. They who do see, who hear and enthuse, confirm how easily would-be dictators turn crowds, even here, into angry mobs, seeking formless, atavistic vengeance. It’s they who hate, need to hate, not me. And they won’t change. Only by being outvoted might they be made to crawl back under their rocks. Which is why they’re targeting free and fair voting.
I receive more notes of approval than disgust. Still, I’d sleep better if I stopped paying attention. But what of my grandchildren and the future they face? Silence is surrender.
Which is more harmful: agonal cries of a grandpa with an audience of tens in a tiny corner of the PNW, or the unrelenting promotion of fear, hate, division, and perpetual grievance, the autocratic ignoring of constitutional restraints, by a “president” who’d grab absolute power if he could? Not to mention those thrilled by the prospect, readying their pitchforks for the rounding-up.
Invective? Nope. It’s a cri de cœur. Open your eyes. Read this.[Image source]